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What's An Outlaw To Do?


American society has always had a prudish streak, ever since the landing of a bunch of uptight religious fanatics at Plymouth Rock. Protestant work ethic in tow, the pilgrims set about building a world in which submission to authority and obedience would lead to paradise. Then came the extroverts.

As wild as the west may have become with an influx of adventurous spirits from around the globe, American society still retained a great deal of restraint. Some, however, saw opportunity in exploiting the mores of the day. The outlaw was born, and many a legend arose.

From the cowboy to Capone, highwaymen to Heisenberg, outlaws have always taken the road less traveled. That road has changed drastically in recent years.

The moonshiner is a classic outlaw archetype in the southeastern US; images of Appalachian hillbillies and stills come to mind and many in my area remember buying 'shine from the hill country of eastern Georgia. But these days, there's a distillery in town (complete with a stereotypical hillbilly spokesman advertising on billboards along Interstate 75), with others in the area. A classic outlaw occupation has been legitimized.

As we learned from Copperhead Road, moonshining and weed growing go hand in hand, but even that is in danger as weed becomes legalized in multiple states in the US and overseas. Good ol' homegrown was replaced by mass-import from across the globe, which in turn is being replaced by artisan organic, independently produced product (ie, good homegrown) dispensed by corporations whose stock price is the very definition of volatile.

Bank robbery? More easily done from a keyboard. Train robbery? Expect to get shot. Besides, nobody did it better than Bill Miner, the Gentleman Bandit, whose photo opens this post.

There is no heroism in criminal behavior, that is the product of myth making. What is admired is the independent spirit that drives a person to go against the grain, the grain in this case being law. The question that goes unasked is what privation drives a person to make the decision to go against the law.

Indeed, what's an outlaw to do?

My advice: don't go outlaw if you aren't willing to accept the consequences. Go independent. Live simply and spend less than you earn. Need food? Grow it, catch it, hunt it. Learn practical skills and utilize them, then teach others. Most importantly, think independently. A clear mind, free of second-hand thought and full of first-hand knowledge, is your finest tool. Use it. 

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